A couple of years ago I preached this message in our church. Three years later and it is perhaps more relevant today than the day I preached it in our church. We have seen over the past 90 years or so, our country go from welcoming to the gospel, to being indifferent to the gospel, to now becoming hostile towards the gospel. I pray by God’s grace that this changes.
How to raise gospel centered kids in a gospel hating world.
Avoid fear – As we talk through the issues as we have over the past few weeks the reaction I find in me is fear. I don’t want my kids to put any of these bumper stickers on their cars. I don’t want any of the things that have been said to be true of my kids. There are times when I feel like a captive in my home afraid to let my kids leave the sanctuary of the home because the reality of the very real devil is much greater to me than the understanding that we have a magnificent savior.
4 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
The best thing you can do for your kids is to give them a healthy understanding of justification and sanctification. This doesn’t happen as often as it should partly because parents don’t understand the difference themselves. Another reason is that we have pushed away from creeds and confessions that undergird these truths in ways we don’t even recognize on a conscious level. To get back to these we must grow in our understanding ourselves and look for ways to practically age appropriately explain them to our kids. Here is how the New City Catechism describes Justification and Sanctification:
Justification means our declared righteousness before God, made possible by Christ’s death and resurrection for us. Sanctification means our gradual, growing righteousness, made possible by the Spirit’s work in us.
Growing up the Ten Commandments always loomed over me as a list of things to avoid doing, like milestones that mark the path of a well-traveled Christian life. They are what most people would say describes the life of a true Christian. The show us the moral guidelines as to how life works best. While the Ten Commandments are certainly all of these things, they are not only those things. Just the other day a friend of mine said: “The Old Testament is all law the New Testament is all grace.” While I certainly understand what he was saying, I think it is a dangerous generalization and dramatic oversimplification.
Kids are a joy. Kids are the best thing ever. Kids are also a lot. I remember seeing as a single person families come to church with well dressed little kids and smiles on their faces thinking wow what a beautiful family. I had no idea! Now four kids later I have a bit more of an idea.
I came across these photos and literally laughed out loud. Danielle Guenther has great skill as a photographer but also must have a few kids judging from some of the pictures she takes. These are fantastic. If you have not crawled along the floor using your iPhone as a flashlight you probably don’t have kids. I most identify with the parents sneaking out and the dad trying to reach his phone while holding his baby. Which one is your family?
Gospel: What you believe about Jesus and His Church will decide who you become
As a young leader what you believe about Jesus and the church will ultimately decide your success in life and ministry. All of the Young Leader posts I have done find their basis in the work that Jesus has done for us. As a leader how you see God and align your life to his word personally is everything…well almost everything. You need to understand and have a personal relationship with Christ but that personal relationship finds it fulfillment in community. Community without a personal relationship is as unfulfilling as a personal relationship without community, both are lacking without the other.
The problem with many young leaders is in lacking experience they tend to fall into two extremes. They either over-estimate their abilities and push on without seeing the need for God’s help or they pull back because they are insecure about the experience they lack. What I love about the Gospel is it produces a much need humility that we all need. To have a proper view of Jesus you have to see beyond your own weakness and strengths. The is no greater tool at the disposal of a leader than humility.
Augustine of Hippo said that, for those who would learn God’s ways, humility is the first thing, the second thing and the third thing.
Martin Luther, when asked to name the three greatest virtues replied, “First, humility; second, humility and third, humility.” .
C.S. Lewis describes humility in his Screwtape Letters as not as having a low opinion of one’s talents and character but rather as self-forgetfulness. This entails a radical honesty with ourselves about ourselves that begins to free us from the denials, pretences, and false images with which we deceive ourselves.
Only when we see Christ for who he is and us for who we are can we truly understand the gospel. And when we see Christ for who he is we see the love that he has for the church it must consume and compel us to love, serve and act with the same attitude that we see Christ demonstrated to us in Philippians 2. When all is said and done young leader what you believe about Jesus and what you believe about the church will decide how you will minister it determines the way you serve. You don’t have to be fluent in Greek and Hebrew but you do need to settle what you believe about Christ and His church.
How do you do this?
1. Preach the gospel to yourself. You need Jesus every day just as much as the people you are reaching.
2. Model to those you lead the same attitude of service Jesus modeled to his disciples. Nothing should be below you.
3. You should be more concerned about who you are following than how many are following you.
4. You should have a passion not just to move people to a personal relationship with Jesus but into a life-giving community of believers
5. Ask yourself who is the community that models their faith in your life.
6. Continually ask yourself if you have ever been more passionate about Jesus than you are today.
Ego: The Church does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus
Genuine authority knows, however, that all immediacy is disastrous, particularly in matters of authority. Genuine authority knows that it can only exist in the service of the one who alone has authority. Genuine authority knows that it is bound in the strictest sense by the words of Jesus, “you have one teacher, and you are all brothers” (Matt. 23: 8). The community of faith does not need brilliant personalities but faithful servants of Jesus and of one another. It does not lack the former, but the latter. The community of faith will place its confidence only in the simple servant of the word of Jesus, because it knows that it will then be guided not by human wisdom and human conceit, but by the word of the good shepherd.
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Keeping our egos in check is so important because it is counter-cultural to everything we see and hear. We live in a day where self-promotion is rampant. The church sadly is no different. What worries me is kids who are digital natives are growing up and they don’t remember what it was like before the age of the minor Christian celebrity. You have ministers who start a blog and buy followers on twitter before long they are wearing swag and hitting the conference circuit speaking about things they have heard and seen others do but have never done themselves.